JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Plans have changed for most middle and high school students in Duval County who chose to attend school in-person.
The school district announced Wednesday an updated schedule for how the hybrid learning model will end for secondary students.
The original plan saw all middle- and high-schoolers finish off the split attendance schedule Monday. While sixth-graders are still set to do that, the older students have a bit longer to wait.
All brick-and-mortar students in sixth through 12th grades were set to abandon distance learning Monday. But under the new plan, only sixth-graders will return to buildings full-time as planned this week.
Seventh- and eighth-graders will be on their hybrid schedules until Sept. 21 and high schoolers one week after that, on Sept. 28.
It’s because Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene asked the state Department of Education to extend her district’s waiver of the emergency order that mandated all schools offer a brick-and-mortar option five days a week.
“We’ve had a manageable experience with COVID-19 under the hybrid attendance pattern. A measured, phased return to having all students on campus Monday through Friday will be extremely beneficial in bridging to larger attendance in school facilities,” Greene said in a statement.
Over the next two weeks, as those school buildings pack more and more students in, News4Jax asked medical experts what those students need to keep in mind.
“When everybody starts coming back together, I think that’s when we need to go back to remembering that, hey, you know, social distancing is important. When there’s this many people in the hallway, we really need to be focused on social distancing, keeping those masks on, washing your hands every hour and cleaning your desk areas, no doubt about it,” allergist and immunologist Dr. Sunil Joshi said.
“It’s so important, as much as possible, for parents to be involved in these things, in preparing to be involved in these conversations, because it’s very, very tough,” epidemiologist Dr. Jonathan Kantor said.
Kantor added he doesn’t envy school leaders with the decision that they have to make regarding reopenings.
“We’re really performing a very, very kind of high stakes natural experiment here to see kind of what happens. And I think we’ve already seen as colleges and universities have opened that there have been a lot of challenges that when you increase the density of the kids that are in classes and other kids that are outside of classes and other activities, that you really do see an explosive growth in the spread of the virus,” he said.
There has never been a hybrid learning model for elementary students.
“Things have gone relatively well in middle school and high school up until this point," Joshi said.
According to Duval County Public Schools, the change for hybrid learning does not have any impact on students learning via Duval HomeRoom or Duval Virtual Instruction Academy.
DCPS is one of the districts that is providing a school-by-school breakdown of COVID-19 cases in the district. It updates this information daily.
In Saturday’s update, one new student tested positive, according to this dashboard.
News4Jax reporter and anchor Zachery Lashway contributed to this report.